For years, philosophers, psychologists, writers, playwrights, and everyone in between has tried to explain the importance or meaning of comedy in society. As far back as ancient Greece, Aristotle and Plato had opposing views where Aristotle taught that comedy was generally positive for society, since it brings forth happiness. For him, a comedy is about the fortunate rise of a sympathetic character. On the contrary, Plato taught that comedy is a destruction to the self. He believed that it produces an emotion that overrides rational self-control and learning. In The Republic, he says that the guardians of the state should avoid laughter, “for ordinarily when one abandons himself to violent laughter, his condition provokes a violent reaction.” Plato also says comedy should be tightly controlled if one wants to achieve the ideal state. Today, cognitive neuroscientist and writer Scott Weems says, “My first thought when I think about humour is it’s a great way for us to have evolved so we don’t have to hit each other with sticks”.
Comedy can teach us morals, shape our intelligence, help us unwind from the bleak realities of our existence, or allow us to find solidarity through relatable themes and scenarios. Furthermore, Aristotle believed comedy has three categories or subgenres: farce, romantic comedy, and satire.
It’s important to laugh, so hopefully you’ll find something right for you in this issue.
/färs/ noun. A comic dramatic work using buffoonery and horseplay and typically including crude characterization and ludicrously improbable situations.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
The holiday season is fast upon us, and what better way to ring in the comedic yuletide than with this seasonal favorite from the powerhouse of National Lampoon? Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo are back as the Griswolds even though their children change every movie - this time it’s a young Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki as Audrey and Russ. Clark’s classic over enthusiasm begets him as he tries to create the perfect christmas for his family, from an over sized tree to just a few too many christmas lights on the house, the addition of invasive family members, snooty neighbors, and the lack of a holiday bonus at work (in lieu of a membership to Jelly of the Month Club) are just enough to send the patriarch over the edge.
Memorable quote: Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he’s gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse
See Also: Burn After Reading (2008), Airplane! (1980), Some Like It Hot (1959)
/ˈsaˌtī(ə)r/ noun. The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
The Death of Stalin (2017)
“In early-1953 Moscow, under the Great Terror’s heavy cloak of state paranoia, the ever-watchful Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, collapses unexpectedly of a brain hemorrhage. Inevitably, when his body is discovered the following morning, a frenetic surge of raw panic spreads like a virus among the senior members of the Council of Ministers (including actors like Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor, Simon Russell Beale, and Michael Palin) as they scramble to maintain order, weed out the competition, and, ultimately, take power. But in the middle of a gut-wrenching roller-coaster of incessant plotting, tireless machinations, and frail allegiances, absolutely no one is safe; not even the feared chief of the secret police, Lavrenti Beria. In the end, who will prevail after the death of Stalin?” -IMDb by Nick Riganas
Memorable quote: Nod as I’m speaking to you. People are looking to me for reassurance and I have no idea what’s going on
See also: Thank You For Smoking (2005), Wag The Dog (1997), Dr. Strangelove (1964)
Desk Set (1957)
Starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, this rom-com is about two strong personalities coming head to head as a television network’s research department is threatened with losing their jobs to a computer. Bunny Watson (Hepburn) is in charge of the reference library and has been steadily involved with rising executive Mike Cutler with no sign of marriage in sight. In preparation for a company merger, the network head orders a computer to help with the extra work, and with it comes inventor and efficiency expert Richard Sumner (Tracy). As the two work together, and we find out no one is losing their jobs, Richard reveals his romantic interest for Bunny, but she thinks he’ll put his work before her (like a certain Mike Cutler). She tests him by setting the computer to “self destruct” to see how long he lasts without fixing it. Eventually he gives in and fixes the computer, but she accepts him anyway, finally kicking Mike Cutler to the curb.
Bunny: I don’t smoke, I only drink champagne when I’m lucky enough to get it, my hair is naturally natural, I live alone… and so do you.
Richard: How do you know that?
Bunny: Because you’re wearing one brown sock and one black sock.
See also: When Harry Met Sally (1989), Roman Holiday (1953), Crazy Rich Asians (2018)